February is National Cancer Prevention Month and it’s a great time to take a pledge to reduce your cancer risk. Cancer can affect anyone. In fact, 1,806,590 new cancer cases and 606,520 deaths are expected in the U.S. in 2020, according to the American Cancer Society, but there are certain things you can do to prevent it.
5 Ways to Reduce Cancer Risks
There are various things you can do daily to help decrease your risk of developing cancer. We interviewed Anabelle Ahdoot, M.S., R.D., C.D.E., Clinical Dietitian, Outpatient Nutrition and Diabetes Education, Oncology Nutrition Specialist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center, for 5 cancer prevention recommendations to help you make healthier life choices.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight throughout life is one of the most important ways to protect against cancer. For most adults, experts consider a Body Mass Index (BMI) within the range of 18.5 to 24.9 to be healthy, a BMI between 25 and 29.9 to be overweight, and a BMI of 30 and over to be obese. Weight gain can be prevented by engaging in regular physical activity and limiting your consumption of high-calorie foods and beverages. Setting up a weekly exercise and diet journal is a simple way to track not only what you’re eating daily, but how many calories and nutrients you consume. Healthline Magazine provides some calorie counting websites and apps to help you keep track of your weight.
It’s time to get moving to prevent cancer. Exercising not only helps you maintain a healthy weight, but it also helps your body regulate hormone levels. Increased hormone levels have been linked to stimulate certain cancer growth. One natural way to help keep your hormones in balance is through exercise. The American College of Sport Medicine recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week (or a combination of these), to help reduce your cancer risk.
You’ve heard of the saying you are what you eat. But did you know what you eat can have an impact on your health? Below we’ve listed our recommended cancer prevention diet.
- Strive for at least 5 serving per day of vegetables and fruits.
- Choose whole grains and limit the amount of red and processed meat you eat.
- Eat plant-based foods that are rich in nutrients known as antioxidants that boost your immune system and help protect against cancer cells.
- Eat healthy, unsaturated fats such as fish, olive oil, nuts, and avocados.
- Cut down on sugar, refined carbs and processed food.
By choosing to eat a healthier plant-based diet, reducing red meat, and eating less salt and sugar, you can prevent cancer.
Limiting your alcohol intake can help protect you against cancer. If you are going to have alcohol, it’s recommended to limit your intake to 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.
Smoking is associated with numerous diseases and has a negative impact on your health. When you inhale cigarette smoke, it’s full of cancer-causing substances (carcinogens), which harm your lung cells. With repeated exposure, normal cells that line your lungs are increasingly damaged. Over time, the damage will cause your cells to act abnormally and eventually cancer may develop. By quitting, you can reduce your risk for cancer and improve your overall health.
Diet and Nutritional Support Services
We know making changes to your diet can be difficult, so we offer a variety of nutrition classes with our registered dietitians to help you and your loved ones prevent and fight cancer. Our classes are open to the community and are a great way to learn about cancer prevention and management through diet and lifestyle changes. Whether you are currently going through cancer treatment or have a family member or loved one that is going through this battle, we encourage you to sign up. Below we’ve listed our available classes.
Join our dietitians to learn about:
- Cancer prevention through diet and lifestyle changes
- Symptom management for those undergoing cancer treatment
This is a great class for those with:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- High triglycerides
- Anyone interested in tips and tricks for a healthier diet and lifestyle
This is a great class for anyone that is:
- Newly diagnosed
- At risk/have a history of diabetes
- Interested in learning more